Many carmakers are trying to think of clever ways to integrate smartphone functionality with their products, but Chevrolet has a new device to help accommodate the phones themselves.
Summertime means car interiors that resemble ovens, and that intense heat isn't good for phones. To solve that problem, Chevy plans to offer an "Active Phone Cooling" feature on upcoming models.
Engineers got the idea for a phone cooler while testing wireless charging pads for cars in hot weather. They noticed that some phones would stop charging or shut down completely if left in a hot car for too long.
To keep phones running consistently regardless of temperature, the Chevy boffins connected an air vent from the car's HVAC system to the wireless charging box. As long as the ventilation or air conditioning is on, the phone gets cool air.
Chevy says it will offer Active Phone Cooling in "several vehicles" equipped with wireless charging, including the 2016 Impala and Malibu. Further down the line, it will be available on the 2016 Volt and Cruze. The Volt should hit showrooms later this year, while the Cruze will arrive early next year.
Equipping cars with wireless charging and cooling for phones may help carmakers achieve an important goal: getting people to keep their hands on the wheel.
The average human's pathological desire to use their phone at all times is an obvious safety risk while driving, and it's been one of the factors behind recent efforts to increase smartphone connectivity with infotainment systems, allowing drivers to use a car's built in controls for certain phone functions.
But physically separating user and phone could be effective as well. People might be less likely to pick up their phones if it means interrupting charging, or if they're tucked away in a closed cubby hole, like the one in the center console of the Cadillac ATS, from Chevy's sister General Motors brand.